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Old 10-28-2016, 07:43 PM   #1
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Overvoltage warning on solar charger

A mystery I am hoping the forum can help solve.
The Victron Connect mppt 100/50 solar controller on board Bluechip keeps cutting the charge back to 0 amps during peak output times, after dropping to 0 then the amp rate raises again until battery voltage reaches just over 14 volts then the cycle starts again. Amp output when this happens is over 40 amps. It can cycle like this multiple times in a minute. On occasions the monitor shows a high voltage warning. The cycling significantly reduces the charging at peak sun time.

I have 2 x 345 watt sunpower panels feeding the controller which is hooked up to the house bank of 3 x 10 month old Ritar 260 amp agm batteries. The solar system was installed by a marine electrician in March this year.

The cycling occurs in both bulk and absorb stages and the only way I can prevent it happening is to limit the controller output to under 35 amps.

The normal load on the house bank is between 15/25 amps per hour on average running a freezer and 3 fridges plus water pumps/chargers etc.

I have had the controller replaced under warranty however the new one is doing exactly the same.

Any suggestions for me to investigate?

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Old 10-28-2016, 08:04 PM   #2
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I claim no expertise here, as my solar set-up is much simpler and less powerful, with simple PWM type controllers, but is it possible that the batts are essentially still nearly fully charged because your system is so efficient, (maybe also generator running has helped reduce the discharge), so your MPPT controller is just doing what it's meant to do, & prevent overcharging..? This stop/start thing happens to my Airbreeze wind genny when the sun is out, and it senses the batt voltage is near optimal from my panels, for the same reason.
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Old 10-28-2016, 08:21 PM   #3
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Can you increase the absorption setting to 14.8? It looks like when it gets to the current setting of 14.4 that is when it starts cycling.


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Old 10-28-2016, 08:27 PM   #4
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David, yes I can do that however the cycling happens during the bulk charge phase as well and that I can't adjust.

Peter, yes I have wondered if that is the case and the batteries are "full" but then why wouldn't the charger be in float mode?
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Old 10-28-2016, 09:23 PM   #5
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As you know I have 6 of the same panels. I started a thread on their performance, and noted that the panels gave surprisingly good results. I suspect that the 345 W rating is quite conservative. For comparison, my maximum of 2300 W from 6 panels recently and not far from where you are would mean 766 W from 2 panels, a lot higher than their rated capacity.

Looking at the spec for your controller I see it is rated for 700 W max, and with 2 x 345 W panels you are very close to the limit. Now Victron is pretty good gear and can usually tolerate operating at above rated capacity for a short period. But is it possible that your panels are throwing out more than 700 W for longer than the Victron controller can tolerate?
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Old 10-28-2016, 09:35 PM   #6
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Right now I have the max output reduced to 34 amps which limits the panels to around 500 watts combined and I am still seeing constant cycling so I don't believe the watts are the issue.

It's hard to catch the output at max and the minimum but these two photos are close (with output limited to 34 amps)

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Old 10-28-2016, 11:00 PM   #7
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But aren't you just reducing output from the controller? My thought is that the problem is upstream - its the panels output that is too high for that model controller. Perhaps try some shading of the panels to test if that's the case. If you still get controller cycling with shaded panels then I'm at a loss as to what it is. Can your controller record what the maximum input it is getting from the panels?
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Old 10-28-2016, 11:50 PM   #8
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Some random thoughts.You`d be dead unlucky to get 2 defective Victron controllers. The rarely if ever seen theoretical max panel output exceeds the 50A max charge shown on the shot posted. Could that wonderful Qld sun output be too much for the Victron to handle, victim of a very successful panel array? Is there a larger capacity Victron to try? Was the first Victron found faulty on return?
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Old 10-29-2016, 01:18 AM   #9
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Hi Folks
I recently fitted a Victron 75/15 controller with 2 x 215w Hyundai panels. I had a problem with the controller (my fault setting it up) but the retailer gave me the phone number of the Victron Australia wholesaler. They have a tech guru there by the name of Clay who should be able to sort this out for you. Unfortunately I did not keep either number as the issue was solved but I can get them for you if needed.
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Old 10-29-2016, 01:46 AM   #10
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That would be helpful, it would be appreciated if you could pass the number or business name on. Thanks
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Old 10-29-2016, 01:51 AM   #11
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Bruce, yes two with the same problem is unlikely, perhaps the panel output it too high for the controller however their manual claims higher capacity panels are not an issue for the controller. I think it is more related to the state of charge of the battery bank so I might try running the bank down tomorrow. Even if that's the case you would think it would switch to float if the bank was fully charged !
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Old 10-29-2016, 02:06 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hickers View Post
Bruce, yes two with the same problem is unlikely, perhaps the panel output it too high for the controller however their manual claims higher capacity panels are not an issue for the controller. I think it is more related to the state of charge of the battery bank so I might try running the bank down tomorrow. Even if that's the case you would think it would switch to float if the bank was fully charged !
See Brian's post #7. Could it be the upstream voltage or current that is overwhelming the controller, in spite of what their manual claims, rather than what is happening downstream like SoC of the batts..? But try shading the panels and running the bank down a bit, one thing after the other though, so it's clear which did what.
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Old 10-29-2016, 02:58 AM   #13
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Breakfast on the inverter tomorrow, that will bring them down enough I think! Then I will try covering a panel though the problem only shows up in the peak sun times
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Old 10-29-2016, 07:06 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hickers View Post
the problem only shows up in the peak sun times
That would seem to support the suggestion that the panels output is more than the controller can handle when they are at maximum output,

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Old 10-29-2016, 08:11 AM   #15
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Hi, first up thanks all for the help/contributions, it is appreciated.

The attached report shows the peak watts by the two sunpower panels are well below the rated 700 nominal capacity so this casts some doubt on the controller being unable to manage the current supplied.

Pity I am 600 nm away from the electrician who installed the system!

Let's see what tomorrow's experiment delivers though we need to move so that may add to many amps back!!

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Old 10-29-2016, 11:27 AM   #16
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What's the max input voltage allowed at the controller? When it trips I see its up around 66-67V. It that more than the controller can handle?
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Old 10-29-2016, 11:45 AM   #17
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David, yes I can do that however the cycling happens during the bulk charge phase as well and that I can't adjust.
No three stage charger should start limiting (cycling, pulsing or whatever) current during the bulk phase. During that phase the controller should allow the voltage to rise to some set point and then it switches to absorption where the voltage is maintained at some fixed (settable in your case) voltage.

That tells me that you are exceeding the design parameters or the design parameters in the specs are wrong or that the design is fundamentally bad.

This wouldn't be the first time a sophisticated piece of electronics didn't perform as specified.

Have you tried resetting the absorption voltage up to about 14.8 as I suggested?

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Old 10-29-2016, 04:37 PM   #18
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The specs on the controller allow for up to 100 volts panel input and 50 amp output so my two panels are well within the specified limits.

I will try today to see if the problem goes away when the battery bank is at a lower state of charge. I have set the absorption rate to 14.8 but not yet been able to see any result as the charger spends most time in bulk mode.
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Old 10-29-2016, 04:51 PM   #19
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No three stage charger should start limiting (cycling, pulsing or whatever) current during the bulk phase. ..
That tells me that you are exceeding the design parameters or the design parameters in the specs are wrong or that the design is fundamentally bad.


David
This is the best answer IMHO. (Another) Bad controller, bad design, or outside of spec.
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Old 10-29-2016, 06:31 PM   #20
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So, no genset run this morning which means the batteries are down 150/200 amps. Controller still still cycling, turn on the kettle which sucks 100+ amps out and still it's cycling. I think either the stated specifications are exaggerated and I need a larger controller or I have another faulty unit??? Is there any other possibility I have overlooked?

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